As America mourned the loss of two giants in public life, you couldn’t escape the feeling that the country had reached the end of an era. John McCain was a pugilist able to cross party lines, command the respect of his opponents, and stand up to his own side on principle. Aretha Franklin possessed a once-in-a-generation talent that let her reign as the universally-beloved and undisputed Queen of Soul. She coupled her gift with a fearless determination to use it in the cause of justice. Watching the ceremonies, it felt a bit like the rare patches of goodness in American life are shrinking and that those with the courage to carve them out are in shorter supply.
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Capitol Tributes: The two most senior Congressional leaders, Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Rep. Paul Ryan reminisced about the “cocky handsome naval aviator” who “fought for freedom in the skies.” McConnell paid tribute to McCain’s legendary strong will, exercised in fierce debates with colleagues. His jailers in the “Hanoi Hilton probably needed group therapy" after contending with McCain, he quipped. Ryan remembered McCain as “a patriot who served his country, a man the of the Senate, yes, but also a man of the House. A Navy man. A family man. A man who made an enormous difference in the lives of countless people.”